Progress is a wonderful thing. And yet like everything else in life, it doesn’t walk a straight line. On its way from A to Z there are a great many little letters you didn’t expect to find in the alphabet of time. Take photography. It was developed in the 19th C…progressed to moving pictures in the 20th…but now here in the 21st maybe it’s time to stop some of the action!
From Hollywood to television to our ubiquitous home videocams, everything now is in action. Busy, intense action. But here’s the thing. The visuality of action may be great for experiencing what’s happening; but lousy for examining what just happened. There for an instant, then it’s not!
No way today’s society will ever stop the action. But there still IS the still camera. And all those magnificent still candids which capture and freeze their subjects in time forever. As with paintings and murals, here we can examine, explore, excite to the drama of this particular moment. Its venue… composition…faces…oh and especially its eyes and hands which tell us so very much not otherwise as noticed in film or video.
There are legions of photographic exhibits and collections. But I’m thinking an even more accessible use of our time. The daily newspaper. Why not take the time to study these photographic moments in time. The joy of victory…the passion of purpose…the moment of sorrow…the instant of panic… especially the unguarded splices of time in which the leader or celebrity is caught and caged inside a frame which our memories will never be able to forget.
Better even than the exhibit or the newspaper, why not those neat but dusty old family photo albums? Tucked inside those covers — if only you can remember where you ticked them — sleep hundreds of moments-in-time that probably go back generations. Want to get in touch with those faces? those lives? those parts of your existence? Grab a cup of tea, and sit back to enjoy your favorites. It’s something every person should do before someone does it for you at the wake.
And every nation too! It’s why we require our kids to take history. Traveling through the history of their country should be one of the most consequential collections of moments they’ll ever have….
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